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The shocking cost of all those fake Amazon reviews

We know that misinformation is a matter of course when we use the internet. Even as online companies take measures to reduce the flow of deception, it’s also up to us to remain vigilant.

Facebook, YouTube and other digital world giants have said that they alone can’t be responsible for fighting back. Google, Apple and Amazon took a stance against Parler due to posts that incited violence. Tap or click here to read about the controversial social media platform’s return.

It should come as no surprise that online reviews are not always to be trusted. You can always find highly rated products on Amazon, but are those buyer statements legitimate? Read on for more.

Numbers don’t lie, except when they do

Amazon saw a surge in business as COVID-19 spread around the world. New storefronts popped up to meet buyer demand, and the need to stand out became more apparent.

U.K. consumer group Which? conducted an investigation into businesses that exist solely to deceive consumers. The group signed up for 10 sites offering review manipulation services.

For example, a fake review will be rewarded with products at a reduced cost or even for free. Services also included false sales campaigns that can help a business get the coveted Amazon’s Choice status in a manner of weeks.

The probe revealed 702,000 product reviewers across five businesses just in the U.K. Amazon responded by removing the Amazon’s Choice label from the offending products. The retail juggernaut is fighting back, removing fake reviews and taking legal action against companies that promote them. As this is a constant battle, Amazon needs help.

Customers need to be able to trust the reviews they see online and the systematic manipulation of reviews needs consistent enforcement and global coordination with stronger enforcement powers given to regulators against bad actors,” Amazon told Ars Technica. “We advise customers who doubt the credibility of a review on a product to click the ‘report abuse’ link available below each review. We will then investigate and take necessary measures.”

How to fight back

User reviews can be quite helpful, but knowing that they’re not always honest means you have to use more discretion when shopping online. Check for poor or robotic spelling and grammar in the reviews.

Also, look for descriptions that don’t fit the product. And did a bunch of reviews pop up for one product in a short period of time? These are all red flags and you can read more about them here. There are services that can help. Here is a couple to check out.

Fakespot

Fakespot is a free Chrome extension that detects fake reviews and alerts you of suspicious sellers. You can use it to shop on Amazon and other retailers. It’s free and easy to use.

  • Go to fakespot.com to install the extension on any Chromium-based browser such as Chrome, Edge and Brave. The service is also available for iOS and Android. Tap or click here to check out the best browsers for privacy.
  • Set up the extension in your browser. A walkthrough is provided to guide you through this process.
  • When browsing products, you’ll see an alert from Fakespot listing the number of highlights it found. This could reference anything from a bad seller to a good price or a better product found somewhere else.

ReviewMeta

ReviewMeta has its own approach to weed out fake reviews. It acts as a filter that eliminates the chaff from the wheat when it comes to reviews, leaving a stripped-down rating. This tool provides you with an estimate to help you make the right decisions, but nothing is foolproof.

  • Go to reviewmeta.com/blog/extensions, choose your browser and install the extension.
  • Once the installation is complete, open Amazon and click on the ReviewMeta icon in the upper-right corner
  • You can also go to reviewmeta.com and paste an Amazon product page URL in the empty field on top and click Go.

Keep reading

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